Some people just radiate energy and optimism; that’s the case with Kizzie. She made me smile––and even laugh with her––from the moment I met her. Whether she realizes it or not, that personality is a key part of her whole story.
Energy may not always be a good thing; it needs to be directed positively, and for much of Kizzie’s life, it surely wasn’t. An angry young person prone to fighting everyone and everything, she found herself deep into drugs and alcohol when she was in her early twenties. It was, however, her mother’s death and the issues that came with that, that seemed to send her on a total downward spiral.
Mother of five children, ages one to 20, Kizzie never graduated from high school, held a job or lived a life with any accountability. She “managed” her life with the help of government assistance and a “guardian angel” who often paid for her apartment or her bills, or who bailed her out of jail. She was often, however, homeless and moving with her younger three children, from home to home, couch to couch. Sometimes their father was with her; he was an alcoholic, though he often held a job. For Kizzie, her only real constant companions were vodka or meth.
Bitter and angry, her energy was directed into self-pity and self-loathing. She tells me she blames no one as her mother was a good woman who raised Kizzie with love and security. Never sure what was the cause of her anger and dysfunction, Kizzie continued to battle the world––and the courts. In and out of felony convictions, she was “on the run” from a warrant for assault, when the police finally found her and her children in Missouri on December 14, 2018.
The three little ones were immediately placed in foster care back here in Sacramento, and Kizzie found herself in a jail cell here as well. A year ago this month, February of 2019, Kizzie’s energy had brought her to the bottom. She says, though, that God had another story for her and, through the grace of God, her defense attorney convinced the DA to release Kizzie with time served as her sentence. It was then that she knew it was time… she needed to get herself into a rehab program immediately. Amazingly, she was turned down by some programs due to her history, but again, her energy made an impact on one particular counselor who saw a spark in her and got her a placement in Alpha Oaks.
Kizzie has been sober now for one year; it’s her anniversary this week. It’s also the week that CPS closed her case and returned her children to her––and to their dad––who is also now sober. It’s a success story that is only made possible because Kizzie used all that energy to dive into her own recovery and embrace the change that Saint John’s makes possible.
Each person here has played a part, has loved me and uplifted me
Kizzie sings the praises of the program: “Each person here has played a part, has loved me and uplifted me,” she says. Though it has been hard work, she has learned to love herself, to be patient, to be accountable and to embrace structure… and she has even learned how to save money! Kizzie now has a full-time job, has earned her high school diploma, and she has goals for her life. She wants to own a home and be a real soccer mom! Soccer, baseball, dance… all the fun things she hopes that her kids will enjoy. She wants to have what she calls “Cadillac problems”… problems that come with actually owning something important, like a house. “I want to be able to complain about the water bill… because that means I will actually own a house and have bills!”
Energy… we all have it to one degree or another. To have it exude from your very being and to have it work for you––that’s what Kizzie now has. That’s what will keep her going on the right path.
Congratulations to Kizzie for all her accomplishments of this past year. As she says, “God needs time,” but for Kizzie, it’s a new beginning for sure.
By Ellen Gemma, Guest Blogger and Volunteer, Former Asst. Principal, Jesuit High School, Former Principal, St. John the Evangelist School